Here in the United States, fully 95% of ALL teens between the ages of 12-and-17 are online, with 80% using social networking sites. As teens navigate these open communication channels, parents rightfully worry about the growing epidemic of cyber-bullying. According to a recent PEW Internet study, 88% of social-media using teens have witnessed other people being mean or cruel to someone online and 1-in-5 will be victimized.
As if that's not bad enough, in the journal of JAMA Pediatrics, ten separate studies examined the link between social media victimization (cyberbullying) and depression and ALL found a connection! In fact, abuse 'doubles the risk' of depression and may cause a third of mental health cases in young people.
Since most of us view social media as a “real-time score board” for a 24/7 popularity contest, there is a lopsided connection between the “selfie-generation” and self-esteem, according to a 2-year study funded by CNN. The challenge for our society is: how we can both protect a young person from being bullied online, while at the same time helping them value the connections they are making in the real world?